A new video from Save The Children is bringing attention to the alarming reality of underage pregnancy worldwide.
Released on Wednesday, the video features a young girl unboxing what she thinks is a new doll ― and finding a pregnancy test instead.
“I don’t know what this is,” the girl says, pulling out the test. “It says pregnant, not pregnant.”
“Every two seconds, a girl around the world gives birth,” she reads off a card in the box.
“Girls can have babies?” she asks.
The girl’s reaction in the video was not staged, according to the group.
Around 16 million girls ages 15 to 19 give birth each year around the world, according to a new report from Save The Children ― while 1 million girls under age 15 do so.
That means a girl age 19 or under gives birth every two seconds.
While the rate of very young mothers (under age 15) seems to be declining worldwide, according to the report, childbirth among older teens (ages 15 to 17) has remained steady.
The report ranks 172 countries on how well they provide children with safe, secure and healthy childhoods, factoring in issues like early pregnancy, extreme violence and child labor.
The U.S. comes in 36th ― behind Bosnia (35), Qatar (34) and Poland (26) ― and far behind leaders like Norway (1) and Germany (10).
“When a girl gets pregnant, her childhood ends,” a line in the video says.
When a girl gets pregnant, her childhood ends. Save The Children
Teen moms disproportionately live in rural, poor areas and have low levels of education, according to the United Nations. They often end up dropping out of school and face heightened health risks. Each year, around 70,000 girls ages 10 to 19 die from pregnancy or childbirth complications.
“Going to school pregnant made me an outcast,” former teen mom Breanne, who became pregnant at 15, says in Save The Children’s report. “You have to grow up fast because you’re responsible for a little life.”
In 2015 in the U.S., around 1 in 45 girls ages 15 to 19 had a baby, according to the report.
Although the adolescent birth rate in the United States has dropped by more than 60 percent in the past 25 years, it is still higher than that of most developed nations ― more than twice the rate of France, and five times that of Japan.
Teen pregnancy also disproportionately affects young women of color. The vast majority of teen births ― 95 percent ― occur in developing regions, the report states, where populations are largely people of color.
And in the U.S., according to the CDC, the birth rate for Hispanic teens in 2015 was more than two times higher than for white teens; for black teens, it was almost twice as high as for white teens; and for Native teens, it was more than one and a half times higher than the white teen birth rate.
Asked why its video featured a white girl when far more young women of color are teen moms in the U.S. and around the world, Save The Children declined to comment on the record. This video is one of three the group released with its report on “Stolen Childhoods” ― the other two, on extreme violence and child labor, feature children of color.
Save The Children’s U.S. section of its report concludes by calling for Congress to fund programs that support healthy and secure childhoods, from early childhood education to maternal and infant home visits.
President Donald Trump has proposed several policies that affect girls and women’s access to reproductive health care worldwide, placing more girls at risk of early pregnancy.
Earlier this year, Trump signed an executive order reinstating the global gag rule, which blocks U.S. funding to international nonprofits that provide or advise on family planning and reproductive health services if these include abortion.
Last week, Trump proposed a budget that would cut federal funding to Planned Parenthood, which provides contraceptives and other reproductive health care to women. This week, the administration is expected to roll back a federal rule that requires employers to cover birth control in health insurance plans at no cost to women, replacing it with a new rule that has alarmed civil liberties organizations and progressive advocacy groups.